The vast global unit trust / mutual fund industry was worth more than $16 trillion by the end of June 2005. Over time, investors' interests seem to have shifted from individual shares to share funds. The unit trust industry in South Africa is no exception. Over the 40-year period from its inception in 1965 to 2005, the industry has grown from only one fund to 567 different funds, worth more than R345 billion.
This study highlights some of the most important changes that have occurred in the South African unit trust industry over the last 40 years. These shifts are compared to changes that the USA mutual fund industry has experienced in the 60 years of its existence. An attempt is then made to answer the question whether South African investors are better off with these changes or not.